Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Technical Services Anonymous

"Hi, my name is Blake and I am a recovering Technical Services Librarian."

I introduced myself this way at the Technical Services Interest Group meeting tonight just to be funny. (That's me, the frustrated class ham.) But there is something therapeutic about all sitting in a circle and talking about Technical Services stuff for two hours with other like-minded librarians.

Since I am on the Education Committee, several people have asked me why there is a separate Technical Services Interest Group meeting on Tuesday evenings during the pre-pre-conference wind-up. To quote Tevye, "I don't know. But it's a tradition." Maybe someone out there who has been part of ATLA conferences longer than I have (you know, someone who's getting a little, um, old) can shed some light on how the pre-pre-conference Technical Services Interest Group meeting got started.

Even though I am not a Technical Services librarian ever since being sucked over to the dark side of library administration, I still enjoy the Tuesday night TSIG meetings. One reason is because I have been going to the meetings long enough now that it is a chance to reconnect with friends even before the conference gets started. Another reason is because I am a library geek, and the technical aspects of Technical Services strongly appeal to me. Another reason is because I continue to strongly believe that the encoding of data is vital to the retrieval of data, and everything we do as librarians is touched by Technical Services issues.

I heard several common themes tonight. Change, of course, was one of the issues discussed. The constant battle of trying to provide ever more service with ever fewer resources was another issue. We kicked around the pros and cons of no longer pretending that the Library of Congress is a national library; does that hurt us, or does that help us take more initiative to address the issues most important to us? And we spent some of the time focusing on things that encourage and rejuvinate us in our jobs, comparing notes on ways in which our personal passions can overlap with our work as theological librarians.

I was personally challenged by two items tonight: The suggestion that journaling about one's professional life can be just as significant as journaling about one's spiritual or emotional life. I have never been much of a journaler, but it was a new concept for me to think about how a tool like journaling can provide some much-needed reflection in what can otherwise be a harried, task-oriented profession. I was also challenged by Chris Schwartz's comments about blogging being a bit like journaling. (Except everyone gets to read it!) I had not discovered her excellent blog until now -- Cataloging Futures, and I have now added it to both my (pitifully short) blog roll and my RSS feeds.

I may only be a recovering Technical Services librarian, but tonight's TSIG meeting was two hours well spent.


Eileen Saner, AMBS Librarian said...

Blake, having a Technical Services Interest Group get-together on the Tuesday evening before the start of the ATLA Annual Conference began in the late 1980's when John Thompson was active in leadership. The purpose was to provide an additional opportunity for technical services discussions during the Conference. I remember John saying that the TS Interest Group should have a option related to technical services during each time slot of the conference that was not a plenary speaker. Eileen Saner

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